Vulture listed the pros and cons of Gary Ross’s departure from The Hunger Games sequel.
First, the pros:
Does this mean less shakycam?
Ross certainly brought a novel visual approach to this nascent franchise, eschewing carefully composed shots for a jittery, handheld feel. That said, would anyone be mad if the new Catching Firedirector found a tripod? Our commenters were in full revolt against Ross’s shakycam, complaining, “I haven’t left a movie feeling this sick since The Blair Witch Project,” and “That camera literally made me ill … If the second movie is like that, we won’t be going.” Which brings us to our next point …
The next director may be better at shooting action.
Ross has a background in scripting populist films like Dave and Pleasantville, and the best moments in The Hunger Games are the ones that come before the titular games begin, when Ross can simply put Jennifer Lawrence in a room opposite someone else and have her effectively sell the movie’s emotional stakes with that resolute stare. Unfortunately, when Katniss is finally forced to play the Games, Ross has no particular flair for shooting them. His protagonist’s usual strategy is to climb the nearest tree to avoid her competitors, but since Ross stubbornly refuses to give us wide shots, he’s got no way to convey even a simple establishing detail like how high up she’s climbed. The other action beats fare no better: The camera is so agitated that we can barely even tell what’s going on, let alone where each character is in relation to one another. If Lionsgate could somehow land a new director who’s talented at conveying space in an action sequence — Robert Zemeckis would be our dream choice, and he’s available — we might actually look forward to the Games, instead of dreading them like Katniss does.
Less fidelity to the source material may be a good thing.
Ross worked very closely with Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins on his adaptation, and she’s credited as a co-writer. Though it was good of him to include her, and the film pleased many Hunger Games diehards by being so faithful to the book, we’ve read the screenplay that Billy Ray wrote before Ross came onboard … and it’s notably better. Ray took a few liberties with the source material — his version has a brief prologue set a year before the main story, which lets him begin with action and introduce Katniss in a far more striking way — but he actually manages to nail some plot points that Ross muddled (like the ambiguity of the Katniss-Peeta showmance) by adapting the book in a less literal-minded fashion. Lionsgate was smart to hire Simon Beaufoy to script Catching Fire while Ross was still busy working on the first movie, and let’s hope that the new director benefits from a similarly fresh perspective.
Read the cons on Vulture.
@CandraBeLLe for the tip!